The Christian Century

Founded on January 4, 1900, The Christian Century is a biweekly magazine published by The Christian Century. Its subject is religion. The Rev. John M. Buchanan is Editor and Publisher and David Heim is Executive Editor.

Articles from Vol. 123, No. 9, May 2

Battle for the Bible: The Impasse over Slavery: While Abolitionists Appealed to the Spirit of the Bible, Proslavery Scholars Could Cite Chapter and Verse
IN OCTOBER 1845, two able theologians debated the Bible's view of slavery in a public event in Cincinnati that went on for eight hours a day through four long days. Jonathan Blanchard spoke for the abolitionist position, Nathan L. Rice for the position...
Blowing Smoke
ATTENDING a basketball game at the Winston-Salem coliseum in the early 1990s, I saw through" the haze of cigarette smoke a sign on the concourse wall: "Thank you for smoking." So the title of Jason Reitman's film Thank You for Smoking (and the Christopher...
Dying Well
THERE WAS nothing particularly unusual or newsworthy about my father-in-law's death at age 84. Even so, it was unsettling, given that until his diagnosis of stage four cancer on March 1, he had been living alone in his home and was seemingly healthy--and...
Encore
I NEVER MEANT to burn any bridges," Neil Young sings in "One of These Days" in Jonathan Demme's movie Neil Young: Heart of Gold. "But I let some good things die." Heart of Gold records Young's two concerts at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium last year....
God's Time, Our Time
ROBERT W. JENSON recently retired as senior scholar at the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton. He and longtime colleague Carl Braaten founded the journals Dialog and Pro Ecclesia and the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. He has...
Grace at Breakfast
IN THEIR BOOK The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus" Final Week in Jerusalem, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan differentiate between historical truth and parabolic truth in the resurrection accounts. They argue that "What does it mean?"...
If Lutherans Ruled
THAT'S RIDICULOUS! So spake the brilliant, productive, acerbic federal judge Richard Posner. What was ridiculous, in his eyes, was the position taken by an attorney for the University of Notre Dame. As reported in the Chicago Sun-Times (January 11),...
In God's Hands: Mental Illness and the Soul
SINCE ONLY God is the source of all healing, it is appropriate that the Christian soul sometimes searches for God more in depression than in health. But the soul reaches out and often cannot find. Depression increases our longing for the Healing One...
Israel's Fences
BY 2010, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promises, Israel will have a border on the east. "Convergence"--withdrawal from the occupied territories--is the name of the game after the end of "disengagement." Parties that do not agree to "converge" will not...
Judas Text Adds to 'Secret' Lore
THE LONG-LOST apocryphal Gospel of Judas, published with Easter season media fanfare, begins: "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot." Jesus says to this infamous figure, portrayed very differently...
Judge Clears Author of the Da Vinci Code
Britain's High Court has ruled that author Dan Brown did not plagiarize and breach the copyright of an earlier book in writing his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, published by Random House. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the three...
Language Games
On Beauty. By Zadie Smith. Penguin, 446 pp., $25.95. TOWARD THE END of Zadie Smith's shrewd and entertaining novel, Kiki Simmonds gets into an argument with her husband, Howard Belsey: "All you ever do is rip into everybody else," she tells him....
Let Us Not Pray
Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found. And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of postoperative complications. ...
Living by the Word: On the Vine
Sunday, May 14 John 15:1-8 I LOVED DENNY SPEAR, my first pastor, because he knew my name and greeted me weekly. What I didn't know was that Brother Spear, as I called him, was a man of great conviction. He had resigned from his previous church one...
Living by the Word: Ties That Bind
Sunday, May 7 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18; Acts 4:5-12 OUR CHURCH HAS an unwritten rule: we will never ignore a member's basic need. Whenever our members know of a need in the church, they call me. "Is there any money in the benevolence fund?...
Massive Protests, Faith Leaders, Oppose Harsh Steps against Illegals
Rallying against a bill passed in the House of Representatives that would accelerate deportations, increase border security and treat illegal immigrants as felons, masses of immigrants appeared in multiple demonstrations in U.S. cities in March and...
Open-Door Policy: Homosexuality and the Message of Isaiah: Isaiah Overturned a Biblical Directive. Does That Example Illumine Today's Debate on Homosexuality?
IF THOSE IN the church who are in favor of changing long-held attitudes and ordinances relating to homosexuals were merely cultural relativists with no regard for the Bible or tradition, the debate would be easier. The same would be true, of course,...
SBC Totals Down? No, Just a Glitch in Reporting
The Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, the annual "bible" of data and details on national church organizations, noted in its recently published 2006 edition a 1.05 percent decrease in membership for the Southern Baptist Convention, and it...
Study Questions Power of Strangers' Prayers to Assist Healing
It's a profound, if unanswerable, question for many who ask God to heal the sick: Can prayer actually help another person recover from disease? A group of prominent scientists recently sought at least part of the answer in the largest and most anticipated...
Testing God
THE MEANING OF intercessory prayer is often unclear to Christians, so it is not surprising that many outside the church also get confused about it. The confusion is evident whenever scientists seek to determine whether intercessory prayer has measurable...
William Sloane Coffin, Prophet, 1924-2006
When William Sloane Coffin Jr. was honored last year at Yale as a civil rights leader, an antiwar activist, an endearing university chaplain and an unfearing liberal preacher, at one point he summed up his faith--and by extension, himself: "I believe...